Now that the new iPad has been in hand for a few weeks, some extended-usage impressions are in order.
First off, and just to get the unpleasantness over with, does it run hot? No. It gets a smidge warm under heavy load, but far, far from uncomfortable. Despite the no doubt massive page views some unscrupulous organizations ginned up from sensationalist headlines, heat is a complete non-issue.
So what’s good about it? The screen, of course—it’s good enough to cut Apple some slack about the horrendous “resolutionary” pun.
If you have an iPhone 4 or 4S, you’re already familiar with the retina display, but just like the iPad being “just a big iPhone”—with the size completely changing the experience—taking a retina display from 3.5 to 9.7″ makes it go from great to game changer.
The screen on the iPad is good enough that it’s like reading on paper instead of a screen. Which means that we don’t have to use screen fonts anymore—real, honest-to-goodness print fonts look fantastic. If you’re a typography nerd, the new iPad will make you very, very happy. Of course, high-res images and 1080p videos are crisper as well, but for my personal use case it’s the reading experience that brings a single, manly tear to my eye.
Just like with the difference between DVDs and Blu-ray discs, some people won’t notice the difference. Which is OK—unique snowflakes and all that. But if you’re the kind of person whose jaw dropped the first time you saw a Blu-ray movie, be prepared for amazement.
If on the other hand you’re the kind of person who watches standard-def TV without cringing, save yourself some money and get an iPad 2.
So, should you get one? If you have an iPad 1, break out the credit card. The difference is night and day. If you have an iPad 2 and you enjoy standard-def TV, skip this generation. If you have an iPad 2 and felt your mouth water the first time you saw a Blu-ray movie, hie thee to an Apple Store.
The drawback is that after your eyes get used to the new iPad all other screens become pixelated messes. Though that’s no doubt a temporary state—now that the iPhone and iPad have opened the floodgates, the retina technology will surely work its way up to larger and larger screens.
There has never been a device to make you feel more like Captain Picard.
Speaking of Star Trek, there’s been grumbling among the more entitled digerati about how both the iPhone 4S and the new iPad are “disappointing.” Evolutionary, not revolutionary. This is correct. Well, the evolutionary, not revolutionary, part is correct. Being disappointed by a company not blowing your freaking mind like clockwork twice a year is a sign you need to adjust your expectations—and probably your meds—a bit.
The fact is that the iOS platform is now mature. Apple is iterating over it just like it’s doing with the OS X platform; a series of smaller improvements instead of huge leaps. It’s going to be like this from here on out on phones, tablets, laptops and desktops. The revolution is over.
If you want to have your mind blown, you’ll have to wait for Apple to disrupt another field. Instead of waiting for that unicorn, let’s enjoy the fact that we live in an era of technology that was literally the realm of science fiction 20 years ago.
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